You know when you see a melting snowbank in the spring, and it's dotted with dirt and debris? Some of those tiny black specs are actually a creepy-crawly called snow fleas.

When I first heard of "snow fleas" my first instinct was to strap a flea collar to my parka and my dog. Also, aren't all the bugs supposed to die during Minnesota winters?! Turns out, they aren't like the normal fleas your pet might have, and they are actually fairly harmless.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension:

Snowflea (Hypogastruna nivicola) is a springtail species that is active during winter and seen on snow.

Snowfleas are harmless springtails that become active as soon as the ground begins to thaw in late winter or very early spring.

These tiny black critters are usually found where there is an excess of moisture, aka Spring when the snow is melting and turning to pure water. Snow fleas are generally a temporary problem and die off when moisture levels are lowered.

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Snow fleas don't bite and don't have wings, but they can jump several inches thanks to a special forked structure under their abdomen. So if that dirt starts jumping out at you, don't be alarmed.

Spotting them in your yard can actually be a good sign, according to the Farmers Almanac:

They are actually great for your lawn and gardens because of the work that they do to help decompose organic material. Should you happen to spot these tiny hexapods this winter, take it as a good sign that the ecosystem in your yard is healthy and rich in plant matter.

The U of M gave some helpful tips to make sure these outside fleas don't make it inside.

  • For small infestations ignore them or physically remove them by hand or with a vacuum
  • For large infestations, dry out wet areas with a dehumidifier or fans
  • Remove wet wood
  • Reduce or remove mulch areas around your home
  • Keep things dry, these things thrive on moisture

They say you learn something new every day, and today the topic is snow fleas. I know I will be keeping my eyes peeled for them when the snow melts.

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